A study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. The affect of vacation anticipation boosted the planners happiness for eight weeks, on average.
“Vacations do make people happy,” said Jeroen Nawijn, tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Further, vacationers who experienced an increase in happiness after the trip were those who reported feeling “very relaxed” on their vacation. Among those people, the vacation happiness effect lasted for two weeks after the trip before returning to baseline levels.
Since most of the happiness boost comes from planning and anticipating a vacation, the study suggests that people may get more out of several small trips a year than one big vacation, Mr. Nawijn said.
The case can be made that travelling on one’s own may also increase happiness. One reason most vacations don’t boost happiness after the trip may have to do with the stress of returning to work. For some travelers, the holiday itself was stressful. “In comments from people, the thing they mentioned most referred to disagreements with a travel partner or being ill,” Mr. Nawijn said.
Perhaps the best plan to get the most out of a vacation then, is to travel solo?
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by APA, more autonomy and freedom are associated with more well-being. Diana Boer, PhD, a researcher in Bremen, Germany, also found that having choices and control over your life is a better predictor of well-being than having money. Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, author of The How of Happiness agrees. She pointed to research that showed that lack of autonomy leads to greater stress and even poor health.
Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University and the author of the new book “The Upside of Irrationality” offers 3 tips for optimizing one’s vacation. He says, “There are three elements to it — anticipating, experiencing, and remembering.”
I invite you to take a moment now to catalyze your happiness by planning and anticipating a short vacation.
Where will you be going?
Who will be going with you?
What activities will you do when you get to where you are going?
How will you extend the pleasure of the trip once you return?
Stacey Hall, L.S.H., C.N.T.C., is the CEO and Founder of the Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness and the best-selling author of 'Chi-To-Be! Achieving Your Ultimate B-All.’ (http://www.chi-to-be.com/blog). While recovering from a debilitating illness which left her physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and mentally numb, Stacey Hall made a declaration to herself, “I would devote my life to healing my heart. And, as I learned what made my heart happy, I would share what I learned with others to help them heal their hearts, too.” She joins us to share her insights along this journey.